Instagram and TikTok are eating into Google Search and Maps

“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” he continued. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

[The] comments were based on internal research that involved a survey of U.S. users, ages 18 to 24. The data has not yet been made public.


~10 years ago it was Facebook. Then we had Google+.

I have observed this phenomenon from a distance, as have my colleagues. They have updated one of the digital literacy courses to include “how to search” because of this. The students get nearly everything through Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok now. Just a year or two ago, we were still in the Facebook phase (France is sometimes a step or 2 behind other countries when it comes to digital trends), we never had a Google+ phase. Twitter has ups and downs. This year it was quite popular, but last year it was considered “old”.

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Generational change. Somehow brands stop being “hip” and turn into “mom and dad’s brands” or worse “grandma’s brand”. The trick is there has to be an alternative to switch to.

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I’ve seen this topic making the rounds in previous weeks, but I must say that I fail to understand how TikTok is at all suited to finding a restaurant or other business. Instagram makes more sense, from what I understand of both apps, but still seems less efficient than Google’s services. I would suggest that it is less about what is efficient and more about what is comfortable.

The first obvious reason that many young users do not use Google to search for these things is an intuitive one: most young users interface with the internet solely through a cellphone. These users unilaterally prefer native apps over browsers because they provide a more consistent experience. While this does not explain why Google Maps is a second choice to…TikTok, it goes some way in clarifying why users are reluctant to reach to a search engine like Google for answers.

In my opinion, these statistics have far more to do with phones acting as many people’s only window into the internet—not just those in their 20s. For the old, it’s Facebook; for the young, it’s Instagram. It is simply more convenient to do everything in one app, and so users are reluctant to leave the comfort of Instagram to search for a restaurant if they can do it well enough where they are now (and so it makes sense why Google+ was born).

With this in mind, Google attempting to appeal to these youngsters by indexing TikTok and Instagram pages seems a poorly-informed countermeasure. Search engines by their nature are just a stop on the way to a user’s real destination. Very few people would want to live in a train station (hell, most people don’t even want to go anywhere anymore), but Mark is convinced that many people might just want to live and work in the Metaverse.

I think Google has already lost this fight because they were never in the ring.

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Google said:

The company replied that the significance of Google+ was less as a Facebook competitor than as a means of gathering and connecting user information from Google’s various services.

Mark is a very long term thinker; I’ve met and talked with him, off-the-record. In SV/VC land the big opportunities/bets are on A) AI B) Crypto/Web3 C) XR=VR/AR. If you frame Metaverse as a privately regulated 3D community that transacts, as I do, you can see perhaps better why and how he is betting.

Very probably but also “engaging”.

Some information on browser vs app usage, by age, might be interesting. The average number of different (mobile/desktop) apps that users use in a day, and average number of times a day people use browsers (mobile/desktop), more so.

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More data on the alleged TikTok thing.

I’m wondering if the original info from Google is actually disinformation intended to make it look like their search monopoly is more fragile than it really is because the anti-trust regulators are sniffing around.


All we have from Google is a throwaway comment. I don’t think this will affect regulators.

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The study author seemed to be having related thoughts.

Very interesting findings, thanks for sharing. Perhaps @bbbhltz could replicate it if there is a follow-up to the mini-survey.

Screenshot 2022-08-20 at 15.33.26

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Just look at the scale that Google operates under. 40% of a whole generation is a big big drop and a lot of money. There would be people called into offices, interrogations of underlings, hastily arranged focus groups, lights on in cubicles after midnight.

Instead we get Google casually volunteering this news of their surprising, sudden, newfound vulnerability to every sympathetic reporter that suddenly gets invited to lunch by Googlers.

Google is a past master at playing warm and fuzzy and itty-bitty when it suits them. And they do lie, they been caught out in that more than a few times over 20 years.

Yeah I could see maybe a 4% loss to TikTok but not 40%. It’s just my opinion, but I think they are playing at something.


Oh there might be. That is good question too.